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Bluwhath, I Can’t Talk Today – Part 1
January 21, 2011 @ 09:51 AM | By Kate Nelson

Do you ever feel tongue-tied, out of breath or sloppy when you speak?

We all have had those moments, and this feeling can occur at the most inconvenient times—an interview, a conference call, a meeting with clients for the first time. Many psychological factors contribute to feeling tongue-tied:  a case of the nerves, inadequate preparation for a conference call or face-to-face meeting, lack of confidence when you are in a public speaking environment and so on.  No matter what you do, speaking is probably a regular part of your job; we use words everyday and it’s frustrating when those words become obstacles that we can’t seem to overcome. Why is it that you can speak eloquently one day and the next you feel as though each statement takes extra effort? 

Susan Berkley, a well known voice over artist and CEO of The Great Voice Company, is a big believer in the connection between psychology and voice. The two are more intertwined than we realize. We sound the way we feel; something in our voice may give away our emotions or we may stumble, become tongue-tied or draw a blank when a word is on the tip of our tongue.  Luckily, these issues do not affect us every day, but when they do, it’s embarrassing and we hope our audience does not walk away with a bad impression of our speaking abilities. 

Below are some tips on how to avoid becoming tongue-tied:

  • Tongue twisters are a GREAT way to warm up the voice and all the muscles you use for speaking (there about 72 of them).  Warming up these muscles, along with practicing clear pronunciation and proper breathing, will help you sound articulate and polished.  
  • Proper breathing techniques – these help us relax and are good to practice before that big presentation!  Once you learn how to breathe properly while you’re speaking, you’ll feel more comfortable in your speaking role and your confidence will increase.
  • Complete word production (CWP) exercises – these help us articulate each word clearly without over-pronouncing the final sound.  Speech clarity improves greatly when we consistently pronounce final consonants.  Final consonant deletion (FCD) is a quality killer but is an easy mistake to correct. 

Tongue Twisters! 

Let’s start with some tongue twisters.

How can a clam cram in a clean cream can?
The thirty-three thieves thought that they thrilled the throne throughout Thursday.
Can you can a can as a canner can can a can?

Read these for accuracy, not speed.  If you can read them accurately with a fast speech rate then more power to you!  Here’s a link to find more to practice (you can even read them in your native language if it isn’t English): http://www.uebersetzung.at/twister/. Bookmark the site and use it before your next big presentation or if you are feeling a little nervous.  Have fun!

Kate_nelsonKate Nelson is a Speech Analyst and works out of the West Point office and is a member of the WP Training team. She works with the North American and Indian call centers and provides speech, voice, and accent modification training for all employees. She is a graduate of Auburn University with a BS in Speech Pathology and Audiology and is a certified Compton P-ESL (Pronouncing English as a Second Language) trainer. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) at Auburn University. She is married and has a 5 ½ yr. old son. She is a self-described “word-nerd” and loves music, oenology, studying other languages, and being with her family.

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